Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Wine Dog

She began her life with a questionable future.

The only intention of the idiot who bred her litter was making money selling “police dogs.” However, when the puppies have a dubious lineage (sorry, girl) – and the breeder is widely regarded as a fool – selling the puppies is a tad difficult.

So, she was shuffled off to a foster home, where her world was a 10 x 10 kennel in a trailer park. The foster mom did the best she could, but she had her hands full with over a dozen dogs. By the time I became aware of her plight, she was six months old.

The day I went to pick her up, I loaded her into the cab of my pick-up truck and she immediately wedged herself under the bench seat. After dragging her out for a visit to the vet, she re-entrenched herself under the seat for the ride home.

Her panic at being exposed to a new world quickly disappeared, however, when I took her out to the backyard to meet my two (male) German shepherds. She was instantly the belle of the ball.

The first time I tried to walk her around the block, she slunk close to ground and hugged my leg – terrified of cars, new sounds and just about everything else. Over the days and months to come, her confidence grew and grew. I was training dogs at the time and our kennel and training facility became her playground.

When I adopted her, she came with a name – Peanut. I was determined to change it, but nothing seemed to fit. She was just Peanut. Not the most regal name for a Belgian Malinois, but it stuck.

Peanut grew into an amazing dog (technically she’s a bitch, but it hurts her feelings when I call her that). In her prime, she learned everything from agility to tracking to protection to Frisbee catching. Her primary talent, however, was soaking up as much attention as one cared to lavish on her.

That scared little puppy of long ago was the inspiration for this post, which was selected to appear in "Wine Dogs USA 2" (Giant Dog, $39). The Wine Dogs series is the creation of Craig McGill and Susan Elliot. I owe both of them a long-overdue thank you for including my essay in this beautiful book of photographs and essays by other wine/dog people.

Best of all, I can now say that my writing has appeared in the same pages as Robert Parker, who penned the foreword. I’ll have to bust that out at a wine tasting one day.

These days Peanut is the grande dame of our animal kingdom. She spends her days taking leisurely walks, enjoying long naps and basking in the sun. Her most strenuous duty is schooling our young Malinois, Hogan. God knows, he’s in constant need of it.

My only regret is there isn’t a photo of Peanut to accompany her essay. Here’s one I took while she was on a well-deserved vacation at Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

I'm not sure which of us has been the luckier one.


Dr. Debs said...

Congratulations to you and to Peanut. Now that she's a celebrity, you're going to have to give her even more than belle of the ball status, I think.

John said...

Thanks, Deb. I have to say that Peanut is taking the notoriety in stride, even though she always gets the celebrity treatment around here.